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Most of us know that staying healthy includes making smart food choices and being physically active. But we’re not always sure what healthy eating really means.

“I have good intentions to eat right, I really do,” says Ben, 59, “but sometimes I’m just not sure what that means exactly.” Ben isn’t alone in trying to figure out a healthy diet, but healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or hard to follow.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy diet:

• Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products
• Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
• Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars
• Balances the calories you take in from food and beverages with the calories burned through physical activity to maintain a healthy weight

Consider these simple tips to help you make healthier eating choices:

• Eat fruits and vegetables of different colors to give your body a wide range of valuable nutrients.
• Include foods that contain fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
• Eat lean cuts of meat and poultry. Trim away excess fat and remove skin from poultry before cooking.
• Pay attention to portion sizes, especially at restaurants. Smaller portions equal fewer calories.
• Season your food with lemon juice, herbs, and spices, rather than butter and salt.
• Choose foods that are baked, broiled, braised, grilled, steamed, sautéed, or boiled, rather than fried.
• When eating out, select a dish from the menu, rather than getting your money’s worth at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

To find out more about how you can stay healthy and be more active, visit the Go4Life® website at Go4Life is an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH. It has exercises, success stories, and free materials to help you get ready, start exercising, and keep going.